Pushing a tight deadline to prevent a federal shutdown, negotiators in Congress reached agreement late Tuesday on a $1.1-trillion bill to fund the government -- but not before stuffing it with extras that drew deep opposition from both parties.
Expected to be tacked onto the spending bill are extra provisions that span the political spectrum -- including easing rest rules on truck drivers, loosening financial derivatives regulations for Wall Street and meddling with aspects of a voter-approved marijuana initiative in the District of Columbia. The bill is expected to be formally released later in the evening.
There is also said to be new money to handle the Ebola crisis in Africa and to fight Islamic State insurgents, but also new reductions in social welfare programs, including a cut to the Women Infants and Children's nutrition program.
The legislation would fund most of the federal government at levels Congress has already approved through the 2015 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But Republicans only agreed to extend funding for the Homeland Security Department until early next year as a protest to Obama’s executive action to defer the deportation of up to 5 million immigrants.
Because the package may not be able to clear both the House and Senate before money runs out on Thursday, congressional leaders were scrambling to round up support for a stop-gap measure to keep federal offices open past the midnight deadline. The round-the-clock negotiations produced the kind of massive text that congressional critics say the lame-duck Congress should have avoided.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) will need to rely on Democratic votes to pass the spending bill over the objections of some of his party’s most conservative members, who want to make a stronger stance against Obama.
A House vote is likely on Thursday.